Tips for Keeping Your Skin Healthy During Winter from Dr. Anne Chapas

The winter skin struggle is real. But no matter your issue, dermatologist Anne Chapas, founder of Union Square Laser Dermatology in New York City (and Rach's own skin doc!), can help you put your best face forward even during a deep freeze.
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illustration of woman with mittens in snow

Dryness

naturopathica gotu kola intense repair balm

“Dry skin is common in the winter months, when the humidity level drops and the moisture in your skin evaporates more quickly,” says Chapas. Along with monitoring your showers (“a long, piping-hot shower sounds calming in the winter, but too much hot water increases that evaporation,” the doc says), combat the season’s arid vibe by switching to richer, creamier products. (We’re into Naturopathica Gotu Kola Intense Repair Balm [$62], a thick, multiuse balm that restores lost hydration.) “Thicker textures seal moisturizing ingredients into dry, cracked, flaking skin, making them adhere for long-term, intense healing,” says Chapas. “Another trick: Humidifiers! Adding one can be helpful during sleep or at the office to add moisture back into the skin.”

Breakouts

c and c by clean and clear spot on spot treatment

We all know the sweaty, greasy days of summer can bring on the pimples, but winter can be an unfortunate acne ally, too. When cold air dries out your skin, it throws it out of whack, often leading to an overproduction of sebum and, in turn, more breakouts. “For light or sporadic breakouts, topical salicylic acid or adapalene gels work very well to increase cell turnover and make it more difficult for oil to block pores,” says Chapas. “Just be sure to moisturize afterward to avoid overdrying.” Smooth on a daily preventative treatment, such as La Roche-Posay Effaclar Adapalene Gel 0.1% Acne Treatment ($29.99), which contains a topical retinoid previously available only by prescription. And if a zit does pop up, you can zap it with a targeted dab of a salicylic-acid formula like C&C by Clean & Clear Spot On Spot Treatment ($12).

Redness

re p bio fresh mask with real calming herbs

The combo of whipping winds, scratchy scarves, and the compromised skin barrier that results from desert-dry indoor air can leave skin red and irritated. So how to fix? Well, to paraphrase Taylor Swift, you need to calm (it) down. “To soothe redness, try switching to products with anti-inflammatory ingredients,” says Chapas. “I also love rich moisturizers with ceramides and peptides.” Our picks: First Aid Beauty Skin Rescue Daily Face Cream ($22), which soothes with feverfew, licorice root, and ceramides; and re:p Bio Fresh Mask with Real Calming Herbs ($32), a blend of calendula, chamomile, and kaolin clay that’s pure self-care for sensitive types. “For patients with these issues, I also recommend a physical SPF 30+ sunscreen with zinc oxide,” says Chapas. “Aside from its primary sun-protection purpose, zinc oxide has also been proven to help heal skin wounds and soften chapped winter skin.”

Lines & Wrinkles

elizabeth arden eight hour daily defense broad spectrum sunscreen

Dehydrated skin can make wrinkles look more prominent. “To smooth them out, incorporate products such as an antioxidant serum, a hyaluronic serum, and a retinol into your routine,” says Chapas. In the morning, protect with an antioxidant-rich sunscreen-slash-moisturizer like Elizabeth Arden’s Eight Hour Great 8 Daily Defense Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 35 ($42). At bedtime, apply a retinol product like the new RoC Retinol Correxion Line Smoothing Night Serum Capsules ($32.99). “Retinol acts in the skin’s deep layers to stimulate collagen production,” says Chapas. “It reduces fine lines and evens out skin tone.”

Dark Spots

skinfix correct and dark spot corrector

“Winter is a great time to treat dark patches because there is less UV exposure to make them worse,” says Chapas. The doc is quick to point out, however, that there is no “safe season” in relation to UV ray exposure, so wear SPF 30+ year-round! (We like Neutrogena’s Bright Boost Moisturizer with SPF 30 [$19.99].) To treat existing brown spots, smooth on a targeted treatment like Skinfix Correct+ Dark Spot Corrector ($80), which has been shown to reduce the look of hyperpigmentation with niacinamide, licorice root, and turmeric. “Keep in mind, different ingredients are ideal for different types of pigmentation, so it’s important to see a dermatologist who can properly diagnose your specific condition,” says Chapas.